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1.  Effects of a mindfulness‐based weight loss intervention in adults with obesity: A randomized clinical trial 
Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)  2016;24(4):794-804.
To determine whether adding mindfulness‐based eating and stress management practices to a diet‐exercise program improves weight loss and metabolic syndrome components.
In this study 194 adults with obesity were randomized to a 5.5‐month program with or without mindfulness training and identical diet‐exercise guidelines. Intention‐to‐treat analyses with multiple imputation were used for missing data. The primary outcome was 18‐month weight change.
Estimated effects comparing the mindfulness to control arm favored the mindfulness arm in (a) weight loss at 12 months, −1.9 kg (95% CI: −4.5, 0.8; P = 0.17), and 18 months, −1.7 kg (95% CI: −4.7, 1.2; P = 0.24), though not statistically significant; (b) changes in fasting glucose at 12 months, −3.1 mg/dl (95% CI: −6.3, 0.1; P = 0.06), and 18 months, −4.1 mg/dl (95% CI: −7.3, −0.9; P = 0.01); and (c) changes in triglyceride/HDL ratio at 12 months, −0.57 (95% CI: −0.95, −0.18; P = 0.004), and 18 months, −0.36 (95% CI: −0.74, 0.03; P = 0.07). Estimates for other metabolic risk factors were not statistically significant, including waist circumference, blood pressure, and C‐reactive protein.
Mindfulness enhancements to a diet‐exercise program did not show substantial weight loss benefit but may promote long‐term improvement in some aspects of metabolic health in obesity that requires further study.
PMCID: PMC4898945  PMID: 26955895
2.  Association of HIV, HCV and Liver Fibrosis Severity with IL-6 and CRP levels 
AIDS (London, England)  2015;29(11):1325-1333.
Hepatitis C infection (HCV) is associated with chronic inflammation; yet studies show greater IL-6 but lower CRP levels. We determined whether liver fibrosis severity and HCV replication affect the ability of IL-6 to stimulate production of CRP from the liver.
We used multivariable generalized linear regression to examine the association of HIV, HCV and transient elastography-measured liver stiffness (LS) with IL-6 and CRP in participants (164 HIV-monoinfected; 10 HCV-monoinfected; 73 HIV/HCV-coinfected; 59 neither infection) of the Women's Interagency HIV Study. Significant fibrosis was defined as LS>7.1 kiloPascals.
IL-6 was positively correlated with CRP levels in all women, but CRP levels were lower in HCV-infected women (with and without HIV infection) at all levels of IL-6. HCV-infected women with fibrosis had nearly 2.7-fold higher IL-6 levels compared to controls (95% Confidence Interval [CI]:146%, 447%); HCV-infected women without fibrosis had IL-6 levels that were similar to controls. By contrast, CRP was 28% lower in HCV-infected women with fibrosis (95% CI:-55%, 15%) and 47% lower in HCV-infected women without fibrosis (95% CI:-68%,-12%). Among the HCV-infected women, higher HCV RNA levels were associated with 9% lower CRP levels per doubling (95% CI: -18%, 0%).
Liver fibrosis severity is associated with greater IL-6 levels, but the stimulatory effect of IL-6 on CRP appears to be blunted by HCV replication rather than by liver fibrosis severity. Investigation of the potential CRP rebound after HCV RNA eradication and persistent liver fibrosis on organ injury is needed.
PMCID: PMC4478137  PMID: 25870985
HIV; HCV; transient elastography; CRP; IL-6
3.  HIV and Hepatitis C–Coinfected Patients Have Lower Low‐Density Lipoprotein Cholesterol Despite Higher Proprotein Convertase Subtilisin Kexin 9 (PCSK9): An Apparent “PCSK9–Lipid Paradox” 
Proprotein convertase subtilisin kexin 9 (PCSK9) inhibitors reduce low‐density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL‐C) and improve outcomes in the general population. HIV‐infected individuals are at increased risk for cardiovascular events and have high rates of dyslipidemia and hepatitis C virus (HCV) coinfection, making PCSK9 inhibition a potentially attractive therapy.
Methods and Results
We studied 567 participants from a clinic‐based cohort to compare PCSK9 levels in patients with HIV/HCV coinfection (n=110) with those with HIV infection alone (n=385) and with uninfected controls (n=72). The mean age was 49 years, and the median LDL‐C level was 100 mg/dL (IQR 77–124 mg/dL); 21% were taking statins. The 3 groups had similar rates of traditional risk factors. Total cholesterol, LDL‐C, and high‐density lipoprotein cholesterol levels were lower in coinfected patients compared with controls (P<0.001). PCSK9 was 21% higher in HIV/HCV‐coinfected patients versus controls (95% CI 9–34%, P<0.001) and 11% higher in coinfected individuals versus those with HIV infection alone (95% CI 3–20%, P=0.008). After adjustment for cardiovascular risk factors, HIV/HCV coinfection remained significantly associated with 20% higher PCSK9 levels versus controls (95% CI 8–33%, P=0.001). Interleukin‐6 levels increased in a stepwise fashion from controls (lowest) to HIV‐infected to HIV/HCV‐coinfected individuals (highest) and correlated with PCSK9 (r=0.11, P=0.018).
Despite having lower LDL‐C, circulating PCSK9 levels were increased in patients coinfected with HIV and HCV in parallel with elevations in the inflammatory, proatherogenic cytokine interleukin‐6. Clinical trials should be conducted to determine the efficacy of targeted PCSK9 inhibition in the setting of HIV/HCV coinfection.
PMCID: PMC4889164  PMID: 27130349
hepatitis C virus; HIV; low‐density lipoprotein cholesterol; proprotein convertase subtilisin kexin 9; Lipids and Cholesterol; Biomarkers; Inflammation; Cardiovascular Disease; Clinical Studies
4.  The association of adiposity with kidney function decline among HIV-infected adults: Findings from the FRAM (Fat Redistribution and Metabolic Changes in HIV Infection) Study 
HIV medicine  2014;16(3):184-190.
To study the association of adiposity with longitudinal kidney function change in 544 HIV-infected persons in Study of Fat Redistribution and Metabolic Change in HIV infection (FRAM) cohort over 5 years of follow-up.
Regional distribution of muscle and adipose tissue was quantified by whole-body MRI, and total adiponectin and leptin levels were measured in serum. Kidney function was assessed by estimated glomerular filtration rate from serum cystatin C (eGFRCys), obtained at baseline and follow-up. Rapid kidney function decline was defined as annual loss of eGFRCys ≥ 3 ml/min/1.73m2, and incident chronic kidney disease (CKD) was defined at eGFRCys < 60 ml/min/1.73m2. Multivariate regression analysis was adjusted for age, race, gender, glucose, antihypertensive use, serum albumin, baseline and change in HIV viral load.
At baseline, mean age was 43 years, mean eGFRCys 86 ml/min/1.73m2, and 21% had albuminuria. Mean (standard deviation) eGFRCys decline was −0.11 ± 4.87 ml/min/1.73m2 per year; 23% of participants had rapid kidney function decline, and 10% developed incident CKD. Lowest tertile of visceral adipose tissue and highest tertile of adiponectin were both marginally associated with annual kidney function decline of −0.5 ml/min/1.73m2 each, but these associations were not statistically significant after adjustment. We found no statistically significant associations of MRI-measured regional adiposity or serum adipokines with rapid kidney function decline or incident CKD (all p-values > 0.1 in adjusted models).
Contrary to findings in the general population, adiposity did not have a substantial association with longitudinal change in kidney function among HIV-infected persons.
PMCID: PMC4320665  PMID: 25251910
adiposity; FRAM; HIV; kidney decline
6.  Altered inflammatory activity associated with reduced hippocampal volume and more severe posttraumatic stress symptoms in Gulf War veterans 
Psychoneuroendocrinology  2014;51:557-566.
Inflammation may reduce hippocampal volume by blocking neurogenesis and promoting neurodegeneration. Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) has been linked with both elevated inflammation and reduced hippocampal volume. However, few studies have examined associations between inflammatory markers and hippocampal volume, and none have examined these associations in the context of PTSD.
We measured levels of the inflammatory markers interleukin-6 (IL-6) and soluble receptor II for tumor necrosis factor (sTNF-RII) as well as hippocampal volume in 246 Gulf War veterans with and without current and past PTSD as assessed with the Clinician Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS). Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays were used to measure inflammatory markers, and 1.5 Tesla magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and Freesurfer version 4.5 were used to quantify hippocampal volume. Hierarchical linear regression and analysis of covariance models were used to examine if hippocampal volume and PTSD status would be associated with elevated levels of IL-6 and sTNF-RII.
Increased sTNF-RII, but not IL-6, was significantly associated with reduced hippocampal volume (β = −.14, p = .01). The relationship between sTNF-RII and hippocampal volume was independent of potential confounds and covariates, including PTSD status. Although we observed no PTSD diagnosis-related differences in either IL-6 or sTNF-RII, higher PTSD severity was associated with significantly increased sTNF-RII (β = .24, p = .04) and reduced IL-6 levels (β = −.24, p = .04).
Our results indicate that specific inflammatory proteins may be associated with brain structure and function as indexed by hippocampal volume and PTSD symptoms.
PMCID: PMC4374733  PMID: 25465168
hippocampus; inflammation; posttraumatic stress disorder; structural magnetic resonance imaging; trauma; veterans
7.  Hyperinsulinemic response to oral glucose challenge in individuals with posttraumatic stress disorder 
Psychoneuroendocrinology  2014;49:171-181.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is associated with a 2–4 fold increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes mellitus. However, detailed assessments of glucose metabolism and insulin secretion in a study designed to minimize confounders are lacking. Furthermore, few studies examine potential mechanisms involved. We analyzed data from a case-control study of medically healthy, medication-free adults to determine whether individuals with PTSD had abnormal glucose or insulin response to oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) compared to controls. Secondarily, we assessed potential mediators such as sleep, cortisol and adiponectin.
Data was analyzed from 92 age and gender-matched subjects (44 PTSD, 48 controls). Chronic PTSD was diagnosed using the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-IV and Clinician Administered PTSD Scale. Subjects underwent 75-gram OGTT, actigraphy and sleep diary (to quantify sleep duration), polysomnography (to assess slow wave sleep [SWS] and delta power), and overnight blood sampling (for cortisol and adiponectin).
At baseline, individuals with PTSD had mildly increased insulin levels (by 19%, compared to controls, p=0.048) that was mediated primarily by weight. In response to OGTT, the PTSD group had higher levels of insulin at 120 min (by 44%, p=0.03) and insulin AUC (by 43%, p=0.015) compared to controls, after adjusting for confounders. Glucose levels were similar in the two groups. Although self-reported sleep duration, SWS, and delta power differed between PTSD subjects and controls, they did not mediate the effects of PTSD status on insulin response.
In this case-control study, individuals with PTSD had a hyperinsulinemic response to oral glucose challenge compared to controls, suggestive of insulin resistance.
PMCID: PMC4165697  PMID: 25108160
Oral glucose tolerance test; hyperinsulinemia; insulin resistance; glucose metabolism; sleep; posttraumatic stress disorder; adipocytokines; diabetes mellitus
8.  Monocyte Activation from Interferon-α in HIV Infection Increases Acetylated LDL Uptake and ROS Production 
Atherosclerosis is an inflammatory disease that is accelerated in human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. Individuals with HIV infection have an activated type I interferon (IFN) monocyte phenotype, which may enhance uptake of modified low-density lipoprotein (LDL) thereby initiating a prefoam cell pathology and recruitment into atherosclerotic plaques. In a sampling of HIV-infected subjects, an increase in monocyte activation genes, MX1 and CXCL10, correlated with monocyte expression of the scavenger receptor A (SR-A), a major receptor for lipid uptake and foam cell formation. Monocytes from HIV-infected subjects accumulated more lipid than control uninfected subjects. We modeled increased activation in HIV infection by priming human monocytes with IFNα followed by exposure to acetylated LDL (acLDL). Exposure to IFNα increased acLDL uptake, which generated increased cellular reactive oxygen species (ROS). We posit that HIV infection augments formation of arterial plaques by triggering monocyte activation with a type I IFN profile, which induces SR-A expression, lipid uptake, and subsequent ROS production. These findings may explain in part why HIV-infected individuals with chronic immune activation have an increased risk of atherosclerosis.
PMCID: PMC4186262  PMID: 24731171
9.  Serum Albumin and Kidney Function Decline in HIV-Infected Women 
Serum albumin concentrations are a strong predictor of mortality and cardiovascular disease in HIV-infected individuals. We studied the longitudinal associations between serum albumin levels and kidney function decline in a population of HIV-infected women.
Study Design
Retrospective cohort analysis.
Setting & Participants
The study participants were recruited from the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), a large observational study designed to understand risk factors for the progression of HIV infection in women living in urban communities. 908 participants had baseline assessment of kidney function and two follow-up measures over an average of 8 years.
The primary predictor was serum albumin concentration.
We examined annual change in kidney function. Secondary outcomes included rapid kidney function decline and incident reduced estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR).
Kidney function decline was determined by cystatin C–based (eGFRcys) and creatinine-based eGFR (eGFRcr) at baseline and follow up. Each model was adjusted for kidney disease and HIV-related risk factors using linear and relative risk regression.
After multivariate adjustment, each 0.5-g/dL decrement in baseline serum albumin concentration was associated with a 0.56-mL/min faster annual decline in eGFRcys (P<0.001), which was only slightly attenuated to 0.55-mL/min/1.73 m2 after adjustment for albuminuria. Results were similar whether using eGFRcys or eGFRcr. In adjusted analyses, each 0.5-g/dL lower baseline serum albumin was associated with a 1.71-fold greater risk of rapid kidney function decline (p<0.001) and a 1.72-fold greater risk of incident reduced eGFR (p<0.001).
The cohort is composed of only female participants from urban communities within the United States.
Lower levels of serum albumin were strongly associated with kidney function decline and incident reduced eGFR in HIV-infected women, independent of HIV disease status, BMI and albuminuria.
PMCID: PMC4177337  PMID: 25059222
albumin; kidney function; HIV; incident reduced eGFR; albuminuria; disease trajectory; chronic kidney disease (CKD) progression
10.  Urinary Biomarkers of Kidney Injury Are Associated with All-Cause Mortality in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study (WIHS) 
HIV medicine  2013;15(5):291-300.
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is common in HIV; CKD is associated with mortality. Urinary markers of tubular injury have been associated with future kidney disease risk, but associations with mortality are unknown.
We evaluated the association of urinary interleukin-18(IL-18), liver fatty acid binding protein(L-FABP), kidney injury molecule-1(KIM-1), neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin(NGAL), albumin-to-creatinine ratio(ACR) with 10-year, all-cause death in 908 HIV-infected women. Kidney function was estimated using cystatin C (eGFRcys).
There were 201 deaths during 9,269 person-years of follow-up. After demographic adjustment, compared to the lowest tertile, highest tertiles of IL-18 (HR 2.54,95%CI 1.75–3.68), KIM-1 (2.04,1.44–2.89), NGAL(1.50,1.05–2.14), and ACR(1.63,1.13–2.36) were associated with higher mortality. After multivariable adjustment including eGFRcys, only the highest tertiles of IL-18, (1.88,1.29–2.74) and ACR (1.46,1.01–2.12) remained independently associated with mortality. Findings with KIM-1 were borderline (1.41, 0.99–2.02). We found a J-shaped association between L-FABP and mortality. Compared to persons in the lowest tertile, HR for middle tertile of L-FABP was 0.67 (0.46–0.98) after adjustment. Findings were stronger when IL-18, ACR and L-FABP were simultaneously included in models.
Among HIV-infected women, some urinary markers of tubular injury are associated with mortality risk, independently of eGFRcys and ACR. These markers represent potential tools to identify early kidney injury in persons with HIV.
PMCID: PMC3975680  PMID: 24313986
HIV; IL-18; KIM-1; L-FABP; NGAL; urinary biomarkers
11.  HIV/HCV coinfection ameliorates the atherogenic lipoprotein abnormalities of HIV infection 
AIDS (London, England)  2014;28(1):49-58.
Higher levels of small low-density lipoprotein (LDL) and lower levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL) subclasses have been associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease. The extent to which HIV infection and HIV/HCV coinfection are associated with abnormalities of lipoprotein subclasses is unknown.
Lipoprotein subclasses were measured by nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy in plasma samples from 569 HIV-infected and 5948 control participants in the FRAM, CARDIA and MESA studies. Multivariable regression was used to estimate the association of HIV and HIV/HCV coinfection with lipoprotein measures with adjustment for demographics, lifestyle factors, and waist-to-hip ratio.
Relative to controls, small LDL levels were higher in HIV-monoinfected persons (+381 nmol/L, p<.0001), with no increase seen in HIV/HCV coinfection (−16.6 nmol/L). Levels of large LDL levels were lower (−196 nmol/L, p<.0001) and small HDL were higher (+8.2 μmol/L, p<.0001) in HIV-monoinfection with intermediate values seen in HIV/HCV-coinfection. Large HDL levels were higher in HIV/HCV-coinfected persons relative to controls (+1.70 μmol/L, p<.0001), whereas little difference was seen in HIV-monoinfected persons (+0.33, p=0.075). Within HIV-infected participants, HCV was associated independently with lower levels of small LDL (−329 nmol/L, p<.0001) and small HDL (−4.6 μmol/L, p<.0001), even after adjusting for demographic and traditional cardiovascular risk factors.
HIV-monoinfected participants had worse levels of atherogenic LDL lipoprotein subclasses compared with controls. HIV/HCV coinfection attenuates these changes, perhaps by altering hepatic factors affecting lipoprotein production and/or metabolism. The effect of HIV/HCV coinfection on atherosclerosis and the clinical consequences of low small subclasses remain to be determined.
PMCID: PMC4267724  PMID: 24136113
HIV infection; HCV infection; lipoproteins; cardiovascular disease
12.  A chronic kidney disease risk score to determine tenofovir safety in a prospective cohort of HIV-positive male veterans 
AIDS (London, England)  2014;28(9):1289-1295.
Tenofovir disoproxil fumarate is a widely used antiretroviral for HIV infection that has been associated with an increased risk of chronic kidney disease (CKD). Our objective was to derive a scoring system to predict 5-year risk of developing CKD in HIV-infected individuals and to estimate difference in risk associated with tenofovir use.
We evaluated time to first occurrence of CKD (estimated glomerular filtration rate <60 ml/min per 1.73 m2) in 21 590 HIV-infected men from the Veterans Health Administration initiating antiretroviral therapy from 1997 to 2010.
We developed a point-based score using multivariable Cox regression models. Median follow-up was 6.3 years, during which 2059 CKD events occurred.
Dominant contributors to the CKD risk score were traditional kidney risk factors (age, glucose, SBP, hypertension, triglycerides, proteinuria); CD4+ cell count was also a component, but not HIV RNA. The overall 5-year event rate was 7.7% in tenofovir users and 3.8% in nonusers [overall adjusted hazard ratio 2.0, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.8–2.2]. There was a progressive increase in 5-year CKD risk, ranging from less than 1% (zero points) to 16% (≥9 points) in nonusers of tenofovir, and from 1.4 to 21.4% among tenofovir users. The estimated number-needed-to-harm (NNH) for tenofovir use ranged from 108 for those with zero points to 20 for persons with at least nine points. Among tenofovir users with at least 1 year exposure, NNH ranged from 68 (zero points) to five (≥9 points).
The CKD risk score can be used to predict an HIV-infected individual’s absolute risk of developing CKD over 5 years and may facilitate clinical decision-making around tenofovir use.
PMCID: PMC4188545  PMID: 24922479
chronic kidney disease; HIV; risk score; tenofovir
13.  Depletion of B‐Cells With Rituximab Improves Endothelial Function and Reduces Inflammation Among Individuals With Rheumatoid Arthritis 
Individuals with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) are at increased risk for cardiovascular disease, partly due to systemic inflammation and endothelial dysfunction. B‐cells play an important pathogenic role in the inflammatory process that drives RA disease activity. Rituximab, a chimeric murine/human monoclonal antibody that depletes B‐cells, is an effective therapy for RA. The purpose of this study was to determine whether B‐cell depletion with rituximab reduces systemic inflammation and improves macrovascular (brachial artery flow‐mediated dilation, FMD) and microvascular (reactive hyperemia) endothelial function in RA patients.
Methods and Results
RA patients received a single course of rituximab (1000 mg IV infusion at baseline and on day 15). FMD, reactive hyperemia, inflammatory markers, and clinical assessments were performed at baseline, week 12, and week 24. Twenty patients (95% female, median age 54 years) completed the study. Following treatment, FMD improved from a baseline of 4.5±0.4% to 6.4±0.6% at 12 weeks (mean±SE; P<0.0001), followed by a decline at week 24; a similar pattern was observed for hyperemic velocity. Significant decreases in RA disease scores, high‐sensitivity C‐reactive protein, erythrocyte sedimentation rate, and circulating CD19+ B‐cells were sustained through week 24. Cholesterol and triglycerides became significantly although modestly elevated during the study.
Depletion of B‐cells with rituximab improved macrovascular and microvascular endothelial function and reduced systemic inflammation, despite modest elevation in lipids. Given these results, rituximab should be evaluated in the future for its possible role in reducing excess cardiovascular risk in RA.
Clinical Trial Registration
URL Unique identifier: NCT00844714.
PMCID: PMC4323827  PMID: 25336464
B‐cells; endothelial function; inflammation; rheumatoid arthritis
14.  Ceramides stimulate caspase-14 expression in human keratinocytes 
Experimental dermatology  2013;22(2):113-118.
Caspase-14 is an enzyme that is expressed predominantly in cornifying epithelia and catalyses the degradation of profilaggrin. Additionally, caspase-14 plays an important role in the terminal differentiation of keratinocytes. However, how caspase-14 expression is regulated remains largely unknown. Here we demonstrate that ceramides (C2-Cer and C6-Cer), but not other sphingolipids (C8-glucosylceramides, sphinganine, sphingosine-1-phosphate or ceramide-1-phosphate), increase caspase-14 expression (mRNA and protein) in cultured human keratinocytes in a dose- and time-dependent manner. Inhibitors of glucosylceramide synthase and ceramidase increase endogenous ceramide levels and also increase caspase-14 expression, indicating an important regulatory role for ceramides and suggesting that the conversion of ceramides to other metabolites is not required. The increase in caspase-14 expression induced by ceramides is first seen at 16 h and requires new protein synthesis, suggesting that the ceramide-induced increase is likely an indirect effect. Furthermore, ceramides increase caspase-14 gene expression primarily by increasing transcription. Blocking de novo synthesis of ceramides does not affect caspase-14 expression, suggesting that basal expression is not dependent on ceramide levels. These studies show that ceramides, an important structural lipid, stimulate caspase-14 expression providing a mechanism for coordinately regulating the formation of lipid lamellar membranes with the formation of corneocytes.
PMCID: PMC4099380  PMID: 23362869
ceramidase inhibitors; ceramides; glucosyltransferase inhibitors; PPAR/LXR
15.  Elevated Levels of Asymmetric Dimethylarginine are Associated With Lower CD4+ Count and Higher Viral Load in HIV-Infected Individuals 
Atherosclerosis  2013;229(1):246-252.
To compare asymmetric dimethylarginine (ADMA) among HIV-infected and uninfected individuals and to evaluate predictors of ADMA in HIV infection.
HIV-infected individuals have high rates of atherosclerosis. Endothelial dysfunction is central to atherogenesis and is one possible mechanism underlying this increased cardiovascular risk. ADMA is an endogenous inhibitor of endothelial nitric oxide synthase. Among uninfected individuals, higher ADMA levels predict cardiovascular events and mortality. The association between HIV infection, HIV-related factors, and ADMA has not been well described.
We compared ADMA in 248 HIV-infected individuals and 50 uninfected controls. We performed multivariable analysis using traditional cardiovascular and HIV-specific factors as covariates to identify factors associated with ADMA.
HIV-infected men were older, less often Caucasian, more hypertensive, and had lower HDL than uninfected men. The median duration of HIV infection was 13 years, median CD4+ count was 592 cells/μL, 76% had an undetectable viral load, and 76% were on antiretroviral therapy. ADMA levels were modestly higher in HIV-infected individuals than controls [median (IQR): 0.46μM (0.41–0.52) vs. 0.44μM (0.38–0.46), p=0.019], but the association lost statistical significance after controlling for cardiovascular risk factors (+0.028μM, p=0.054). Lower CD4+ count and both detectable and higher viral load were independently associated with increased ADMA.
ADMA levels were modestly elevated in the setting of HIV infection. Notably, a greater HIV-associated inflammatory burden, as evidenced by lower CD4+ counts and higher viral loads, was associated with increased ADMA levels. Our findingssuggest that HIV infection impairs endothelial function and predisposes to atherosclerosis through chronic inflammation and subsequent accumulation of ADMA.
PMCID: PMC3691342  PMID: 23711612
HIV; Asymmetric dimethylarginine; Endothelial dysfunction; Nitric oxide
16.  Serum albumin and short-term risk for mortality and cardiovascular disease among HIV-infected veterans 
AIDS (London, England)  2013;27(8):1339-1343.
We examined the short-term and long-term associations of serum albumin with mortality and cardiovascular disease among HIV-infected veterans.
Retrospective cohort analysis using a national database of US veterans with HIV infection.
This analysis evaluated all HIV-infected veterans in the Department of Veterans Affairs HIV Clinical Case Registry (CCR), a national database consisting of demographic, clinical, laboratory, pharmaceutical, and viral status data. There were 25 522 patients enrolled between 1986 and 2007. We evaluated the associations of baseline and time-updated serum albumin levels with all-cause mortality, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, and heart failure by multivariate proportional hazards models.
Over 21 years, there were 10 869 deaths; the cumulative mortality was 73.2 per 1000 person-years. After multivariate adjustment for covariates measured at baseline, the lowest category of serum albumin (<2.5 g/dl) was associated with a higher mortality risk compared with the highest category (>4 g/dl; hazard ratio 3.00; 2.67–3.37). When analyzed as a time-dependent model, the association strengthened substantially (15.1; 14.0–16.4). Findings were similar for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and heart failure. We stratified the baseline mortality model by year of follow-up and found that albumin was more strongly associated with deaths that occurred within 1 year of baseline (9.29; 7.85–11.0) than in the second (1.66; 1.18–2.33) or third (1.22; 0.77–1.96) year after measurement.
Among ambulatory HIV-infected patients, lower serum albumin levels are strongly predictive of mortality risk, particularly within 1 year.
PMCID: PMC4026018  PMID: 23343914
albumin; cardiovascular disease; end-stage renal disease; glomerular filtration rate; kidney
17.  Does HIV infection promote early kidney injury in women? 
Antiviral therapy  2013;19(1):79-87.
In HIV-infected women, urine concentrations of novel tubulointerstitial injury markers, interleukin-18 (IL-18) and kidney injury marker-1 (KIM-1) are associated with kidney function decline and all-cause mortality. We hypothesized that HIV-infected individuals with preserved kidney filtration function would have more extensive kidney injury, as determined by urine injury markers, compared to the uninfected controls, and that risk factors for tubulointerstitial injury would differ from risk factors for albuminuria.
In this cross-sectional study, we compared urine concentrations of IL-18, KIM-1, and ACR in 908 HIV-infected and 289 HIV-uninfected women enrolled in the Women’s Interagency HIV Study, utilizing stored urine specimens from visits between 1999 and 2000.
After multivariate-adjusted linear regression analysis, mean urine concentrations were higher in HIV-infected individuals by 38% for IL-18 (p<0.0001), 12% for KIM-1 (p=0.081), and 47% for ACR (p<0.0001). Higher HIV RNA level (15% per 10-fold increase, p<0.0001), lower CD4 count (8% per doubling, p=0.0025), HCV infection (30%, p=0.00018), and lower HDL (5% per 10 mg/dL, p=0.0024) were each associated with higher IL-18 concentrations. In contrast, hypertension (81%, p<0.0001) and diabetes (47%, p=0.018) were among the strongest predictors of higher ACR, though HIV RNA level (15% per 10-fold increase, p=0.0004) was also associated with higher ACR.
HIV-infected women had more extensive tubulointerstitial and glomerular injury than uninfected women, but the associated factors differed among the urine biomarkers. Combinations of urinary biomarkers should be investigated to further characterize early kidney injury in HIV-infected women.
PMCID: PMC3933452  PMID: 23970313
18.  Decreased limb muscle and increased central adiposity are associated with 5-year all-cause mortality in HIV infection 
AIDS (London, England)  2011;25(11):1405-1414.
Unintentional loss of weight and muscle due to aging and disease has been associated with increased mortality. Wasting and weight loss occur in HIV infection even in the modern era of effective antiretroviral therapy.
We determined the association of MRI-measured regional and total skeletal muscle and adipose tissue with 5-year, all-cause mortality in 922 HIV-infected persons in the study of Fat Redistribution and Metabolic Change in HIV Infection (FRAM).
After 5 years of follow-up, HIV-infected participants with arm skeletal muscle in the lowest tertile had a mortality rate of 23%, compared with 11 and 8% for those in the middle and highest tertiles. After multivariable adjustment for demographics, cardiovascular risk factors, HIV-related factors, inflammatory markers, and renal disease, we found that lower arm skeletal muscle, lower leg skeletal muscle and higher visceral adipose tissue (VAT) were each independently associated with increased mortality. Those in the lowest tertile of arm or leg skeletal muscle had higher odds of death [arm: odds ratio (OR)=2.0, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.96–4.0; leg: OR=2.4, 95% CI 1.2–4.8] compared with the highest respective tertiles. Those in the highest tertile of VAT had 2.1-fold higher odds of death (95% CI 1.1–4.0) compared with the lowest VAT tertile.
Lower muscle mass and central adiposity appear to be important risk factors for mortality in HIV-infected individuals. A substantial proportion of this risk may be unrecognized because of the current reliance on body mass index in clinical practice.
PMCID: PMC3933309  PMID: 21572308
body composition; cachexia; fat redistribution; HIV infection; lipoatrophy; lipodystrophy; mortality; sarcopenia
19.  Comparisons of creatinine and cystatin C for detection of kidney disease and prediction of all-cause mortality in HIV-infected women 
AIDS (London, England)  2013;27(14):2291-2299.
Cystatin C could improve chronic kidney disease (CKD) classification in HIV-infected women relative to serum creatinine.
Retrospective cohort analysis.
Cystatin C and creatinine were measured from specimens taken and stored during the 1999–2000 exam among 908 HIV-infected participants in the Women’s Interagency HIV study (WIHS). Mean follow-up was 10.2 years. The associations of baseline categories (<60, 60–90, and >90 mL/min/1.73m2) of creatinine eGFR (eGFRcr), cystatin C eGFR (eGFRcys), and combined creatinine-cystatin C eGFR (eGFRcr-cys) with all-cause mortality were evaluated using multivariable Cox regression. The net reclassification index (NRI) was calculated to evaluate the effect of cystatin C on reclassification of CKD staging.
The prevalence of CKD (eGFR<60) at baseline was higher with eGFRcys (10.1%) compared to eGFRcr (6.7%, p=0.0006) and eGFRcr-cys (7.5%, p=0.011). Relative to eGFR >90, the eGFR <60 category by eGFRcys (Adjusted HR: 2.56; 95% CI: 1.63, 4.02), eGFRcr-cys (3.11; 1.94–5.00), and eGFRcr (2.34; 1.44–3.79) was associated with increased mortality risk. However, the eGFR 60–90 category was associated with increased mortality risk for eGFRcys (1.80; 1.28–2.53) and eGFRcr-cys (1.91; 1.38–2.66) but not eGFRcr (1.20; 0.85–1.67). The overall NRI for mortality was 26% when reclassifying from eGFRcr to eGFRcys (p<0.001) and was 20% when reclassifying from eGFRcr to eGFRcr-cys (p<0.001).
Cystatin C detected a higher prevalence of CKD relative to creatinine and improves CKD staging relative to creatinine by reclassifying individuals at the highest mortality risk to lower eGFR categories.
PMCID: PMC3919542  PMID: 23669156
Creatinine; Cystatin C; Glomerular Filtration Rate; HIV; Mortality; Kidney; Women
20.  Urinary Markers of Kidney Injury and Kidney Function Decline in HIV-Infected Women 
HIV-infected persons have substantially higher risk of kidney failure than persons without HIV, but serum creatinine levels are insensitive for detecting declining kidney function. We hypothesized that urine markers of kidney injury would be associated with declining kidney function among HIV-infected women.
In the Women's Interagency HIV Study (WIHS), we measured concentrations of albumin-to-creatinine ratio (ACR), interleukin-18 (IL-18), kidney injury marker-1 (KIM-1), and neutrophil gelatinase-associated lipocalin (NGAL) from stored urine among 908 HIV-infected and 289 uninfected participants. Primary analyses used cystatin C based estimated glomerular filtration rate (CKD-EPI eGFRcys) as the outcome, measured at baseline and two follow-up visits over eight years; secondary analyses used creatinine (CKD-EPI eGFRcr). Each urine biomarker was categorized into tertiles, and kidney decline was modeled with both continuous and dichotomized outcomes.
Compared with the lowest tertiles, the highest tertiles of ACR (−0.15ml/min/1.73m2, p<0.0001), IL-18 (−0.09ml/min/1.73m2, p<0.0001) and KIM-1 (−0.06ml/min/1.73m2, p<0.001) were independently associated with faster eGFRcys decline after multivariate adjustment including all three biomarkers among HIV-infected women. Among these biomarkers, only IL-18 was associated with each dichotomized eGFRcys outcome: ≥3% (Relative Risk 1.40; 95%CI 1.04-1.89); ≥5% (1.88; 1.30-2.71); and ≥10% (2.16; 1.20-3.88) for the highest versus lowest tertile. In alternative models using eGFRcr, the high tertile of KIM-1 had independent associations with 5% (1.71; 1.25-2.33) and 10% (1.78; 1.07-2.96) decline, and the high IL-18 tertile with 10% decline (1.97; 1.00-3.87).
Among HIV-infected women in the WIHS cohort, novel urine markers of kidney injury detect risk for subsequent declines in kidney function.
PMCID: PMC3509242  PMID: 23023103
HIV; KIM-1; NGAL; IL-18; albumin-to-creatinine ratio; cystatin C; kidney injury
21.  Association of Tenofovir Exposure with Kidney Disease Risk in HIV Infection 
AIDS (London, England)  2012;26(7):867-875.
Despite widespread highly active antiretroviral therapy use, HIV disease remains associated with increased risk of kidney disease. Whether tenofovir use is associated with higher risk of kidney disease is controversial.
We evaluated the association of cumulative and ever exposure to tenofovir on kidney outcomes in 10,841 HIV-infected patients from the Veterans Health Administration who initiated antiretroviral therapy from 1997-2007.
Cox proportional hazards and marginal structural models evaluated associations between tenofovir and time to first occurrence of 1) proteinuria (two consecutive urine dipstick measurements ≥30mg/dL), 2) rapid decline in kidney function (≥3ml/min/1.73m2 annual decline), and 3) CKD (estimated glomerular filtration rate <60ml/min/1.73m2).
Median follow-up ranged from 3.9 years (proteinuria) to 5.5 years (CKD), during which 3400 proteinuria, 3078 rapid decline, and 533 CKD events occurred. After multivariable adjustment, each year of exposure to tenofovir was associated with 34% increased risk of proteinuria (95%CI 25-45%, p<0.0001), 11% increased risk of rapid decline (3-18%, p=0.0033), and 33% increased risk of CKD (18-51%; p<0.0001). Pre-existing renal risk factors did not appear to worsen the effects of tenofovir. Other ARVs showed weaker or inconsistent associations with kidney disease events. Among those who discontinued tenofovir use, risk of kidney disease events did not appear to decrease during follow-up.
Tenofovir exposure was independently associated with increased risk for three types of kidney disease events, and did not appear to be reversible. Because subtle kidney function decline affects long-term morbidity and mortality, the balance between efficacy and probable adverse effects requires further study.
PMCID: PMC3736566  PMID: 22313955
HIV; antiretroviral therapy; kidney disease; tenofovir
22.  Intermuscular Adipose Tissue and Metabolic Associations in HIV Infection 
Obesity (Silver Spring, Md.)  2010;19(2):283-291.
Intermuscular adipose tissue (IMAT) is associated with metabolic abnormalities similar to those associated with visceral adipose tissue (VAT). Increased IMAT has been found in obese human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-infected women. We hypothesized that IMAT, like VAT, would be similar or increased in HIV-infected persons compared with healthy controls, despite decreases in subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) found in HIV infection. In the second FRAM (Study of Fat Redistribution and Metabolic Change in HIV infection) exam, we studied 425 HIV-infected subjects and 211 controls (from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study) who had regional AT and skeletal muscle (SM) measured by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Multivariable linear regression identified factors associated with IMAT and its association with metabolites. Total IMAT was 51% lower in HIV-infected participants compared with controls (P = 0.003). The HIV effect was attenuated after multivariable adjustment (to −28%, P < 0.0001 in men and −3.6%, P = 0.70 in women). Higher quantities of leg SAT, upper-trunk SAT, and VAT were associated with higher IMAT in HIV-infected participants, with weaker associations in controls. Stavudine use was associated with lower IMAT and SAT, but showed little relationship with VAT. In multivariable analyses, regional IMAT was associated with insulin resistance and triglycerides (TGs). Contrary to expectation, IMAT is not increased in HIV infection; after controlling for demographics, lifestyle, VAT, SAT, and SM, HIV+ men have lower IMAT compared with controls, whereas values for women are similar. Stavudine exposure is associated with both decreased IMAT and SAT, suggesting that IMAT shares cellular origins with SAT.
PMCID: PMC3731045  PMID: 20539305
23.  HIV viremia and changes in kidney function 
AIDS (London, England)  2009;23(9):1089-1096.
To evaluate the effect of HIV infection on longitudinal changes in kidney function and to identify independent predictors of kidney function changes in HIV-infected individuals.
A prospective cohort.
Cystatin C was measured at baseline and at the 5-year follow-up visit of the Study of Fat Redistribution and Metabolic Change in HIV infection in 554 HIV-infected participants and 230 controls. Control participants were obtained from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults study. Glomerular filtration rate (eGFRcys) was estimated using the formula 76.7 × cysC−1.19.
Compared with controls, HIV-infected participants had a greater proportion of clinical decliners (annual decrease in eGFRcys > 3 ml/min per 1.73 m2; 18 versus 13%, P=0.002) and clinical improvers (annual increase in eGFRcys > 3 ml/min per 1.73 m2; 26 versus 6%, P< 0.0001). After multivariable adjustment, HIV infection was associated with higher odds of both clinical decline (odds ratio 2.2; 95% confidence interval 1.3, 3.9, P = 0.004) and clinical improvement (odds ratio 7.3; 95% confidence interval 3.9, 13.6, P ≤ 0.0001). Among HIV-infected participants, a decrease in HIV viral load during follow-up was independently associated with clinical improvement; conversely, higher baseline and an increase in viral load during follow-up were associated with clinical decline. No individual antiretroviral drug or drug class appeared to be substantially associated with clinical decline or improvement.
Compared with controls, HIV-infected persons were more likely both to have clinical decline and clinical improvement in kidney function during 5 years of follow-up. The extent of viremic control had a strong association with longitudinal changes in kidney function.
PMCID: PMC3725756  PMID: 19352136
cystatin C; glomerular filtration rate; HIV; kidney; viral load
24.  The Relationship between Body Mass Index and Mental Health Among Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans 
Journal of General Internal Medicine  2013;28(Suppl 2):563-570.
Obesity is a growing public health concern and is becoming an epidemic among veterans in the post-deployment period.
To explore the relationship between body mass index (BMI) and posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in a large cohort of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, and to evaluate trajectories of change in BMI over 3 years.
Retrospective, longitudinal cohort analysis of veterans’ health records
A total of 496,722 veterans (59,790 female and 436,932 male veterans) whose height and weight were recorded at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare system at least once after the end of their last deployment and whose first post-deployment outpatient encounter at the VA was at least 1 year prior to the end of the study period (December 31, 2011).
BMI, mental health diagnoses.
Seventy-five percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans were either overweight or obese at baseline. Four trajectories were observed: “stable overweight” represented the largest class; followed by “stable obese;” “overweight/obese gaining;” and “obese losing.” During the 3-year ascertainment period, those with PTSD and depression in particular were at the greatest risk of being either obese without weight loss or overweight or obese and continuing to gain weight. Adjustment for demographics and antipsychotic medication attenuated the relationship between BMI and certain mental health diagnoses. Although BMI trajectories were similar in men and women, some gender differences were observed. For example, the risk of being in the persistently obese class in men was highest for those with PTSD, whereas for women, the risk was highest among those with depression.
The growing number of overweight or obese returning veterans is a concerning problem for clinicians who work with these patients. Successful intervention to reduce the prevalence of obesity will require integrated efforts from primary care and mental health to treat underlying mental health causes and assist with engagement in weight loss programs.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11606-013-2374-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC3695271  PMID: 23807066
women’s health; veteran; mental health; obesity
25.  Risk Factors for ESRD in HIV-Infected Individuals: Traditional and HIV-Related Factors 
Despite improvements in survival with HIV infection, kidney disease remains an important complication. Few studies have evaluated risk factors associated with development of end-stage renal disease (ESRD) in HIV-infected individuals. We sought to identify traditional and HIV-related risk factors for ESRD in HIV-infected individuals, and to compare ESRD risk by eGFR and proteinuria levels.
Study design
Retrospective cohort study.
Setting and Participants
22,156 HIV-infected veterans without preexisting ESRD receiving healthcare in the Veterans’ Affairs medical system between 1996 and 2004.
Hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypoalbuminemia (serum albumin<3.5mg/dL), CD4 lymphocyte count, HIV viral load, hepatitis C virus coinfection, proteinuria, and estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) were identified using the Veterans’ Affairs electronic record system.
ESRD was ascertained by the United States Renal Data System.
366 cases of ESRD occurred, corresponding to 3 cases per 1,000 person-years. Hypertension (HR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.5–2.4), diabetes (HR, 1.7; 95% CI, 1.3–2.2), and cardiovascular disease (HR, 2.2; 95% CI, 1.7–2.7) were independently associated with ESRD risk in multivariate-adjusted models, as were CD4 lymphocyte count <200 cells/mm3 (HR, 1.5; 95% CI, 1.2–2.0), HIV viral load ≥30,000 copies/mL (HR, 2.0; 95% CI, 1.5–2.8), hepatitis C virus coinfection (HR, 1.9; 95% CI, 1.5–2.4), and hypoalbuminemia (HR, 2.1; 95% CI, 1.8–2.5). Compared to persons without chronic kidney disease (CKD), defined as eGFR>60mg/min/1.73m2 and no proteinuria, lower eGFR and higher proteinuria categories were jointly associated with exponentially higher ESRD rates, ranging from 6.6 per 1000 person-years for persons with proteinuria 30–100 mg/dL and eGFR>60ml/min/1.73m2, to 193 per 1000 person-years for persons with proteinuria ≥300mg/dL and eGFR<30ml/min/1.73m2.
Results may not be generalizable to female and nonveteran populations.
In HIV-infected persons, ESRD risk appears attributable to a combination of traditional and HIV-related risk factors for kidney disease. Combining eGFR and proteinuria for CKD staging is most effective for stratifying risk for ESRD.
PMCID: PMC3324595  PMID: 22206742
End-stage renal disease; HIV; chronic kidney disease; risk factors

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